Today we have the chance to talk with currently one of the most talked-about bands in the UK. A worthy band that have worked hard to get where they are. They have opened for Bon Jovi at his O2 Residency in London, appeared on the cover of Kerrang! magazine, and played in US, Europe, Asia or Australia, gaining thousands of fans all over the world. Young Guns are in the european leg of the tour right now presenting their acclaimed second album called Bones.
We met the band in a very british day in Madrid and they talked about music, Thailand, social networks or the new album. A very interesting conversation with Gustav, Fraser and Simon.
How is the tour going so far?
SIMON MITCHELL (bass): It’s really really good. We have just started with the European leg, like 4, 5 days ago? Nearly a week. It’s going well and these are the biggest live shows we’ve done, over the year so…
You supported Seether in the US. How was it?
SM: With Seether? Was great, was very different. It’s a different type of crowd, it’s more varied I guess, like, you got the young and you got a lot of older people too. It was a great experience and we’re doing really well.
FRASER TAYLOR (guitar): It was our first American tour and it’s being great.
You had a quick rise. Are you in the exact place you imagined you wanted to be when you started the band?
GUSTAV WORD (frontman): Well, I think it’s difficult because, I remember when we started the band, for me, my main goal was to like, shoot a music video, do a proper tour… and then we did those things and it was like all right man, wouldn’t it be awesome if we had a whole album? And then we did that, but the point I’m trying to make it’s that I think you go pursuing goals and think ok, I’ll be satisfied if we get to do that, but then success changes, and evolve with what you do. But I’m really happy with where we are, I think we’re having an amazing year, easily the best we remember have, as a band. For me, is just about being happy with where you are at that point of time. You know if we say ok I want to play Wembley in two years, if you set goals like that you’ll certainly disappoint yourself, so we’re just trying to enjoy where we are.
You played Shepherd’s Bush recently. Some bands consider it a turning point. Then immediately they want to make Earl’s Court, Wembley, etc…
FT: Well, I mean, obviously that would be very nice, but you now, you’re always like, I want to go further, I want to go to Japan, Australia… and we’ve been lucky enough to do that, now we’re just back here again. I don’t think we really set up ourselves goals in terms of how big we want to be. Do we?
SM: We’re still progressing, and it’s exciting when we go to new places but I think it’s important to kind of like, retain and make sure you don’t lose connection with the places that you do best in.
Bones has been recorded in Thailand, how come that far? How was the experience?
GW: Well we knew we wanted to record it somewhere new. Because we felt like we weren’t starting again as a band, but we were definitely trying to push ourselves to be a better band than we were at that point of time. We though it was quite important to do something new and put ourselves in an environment we hadn’t been until that point. Up until Bones, we had written every song we ever had in exactly the same room, and we recorded everything that we released, in the same studio with the same guy. So I think there was definitely a feeling with us that we wanted to do something new and try to push ourselves to be a better band. When the chance came up to go to Thailand, it was the best way, just to remove ourselves from everything we were familiar with, and go to the other side of the planet. And hopefully that would inspire us as it did.
How do you approach the songs? How is the writing process in YG?
FT: A lot of the time we try to sit in a room all of us and try to write something… but it takes a long time
GW: It’s being painful.
Do you like to improvise in the studio or you got some ideas before getting together to play?
FT: Yeah we do that, but we probably do that for a couple of ours and then just decide that we don’t like anything that we’ve just played so… We normally start of someone bringing a briefing or a melody or something like that, and then we all work on it together.
Probably you got this question asked many times, but what are your main influences?
GW: I always find this question very hard to answer. I think a couple of years ago we were all very heavily influenced. But now I actually don’t know. I mean, I’m happy about this but we don’t really listen to, or we don’t say I want a song that sounds like that, or that band. We just try to keep it organic and hope that whatever we’re doing the 5 of us it sounds as something we want to hear. We don’t ape to anyone else or sound like similar to somebody else. We listen to pop music, metal…
Is there something in particular that you don’t like? X-Factor for instance?
GW: Yeah I really dislike it, but I know some of the guys in the band enjoy it. You know, we all like different things and that’s probably the main thing that defines as a band, in terms of how we sound, it’s the fact that we all do like different things and bring different things to the table.
How do you get on with the critics?
FT: Critics? Well, we’ve been pretty lucky really, we found very few bad write-ups really.
SM: I think is because we’re not trying to be the next punk band or metal band. I guess it’s hard for critics to be kind of like oh they don’t sound like this or like that, you know what I mean? We just write music that we love and that we feel is honest to ourselves and that we enjoy the five of us.
GW: Definitely is like whenever you find a bad review it gets you, but I think we’ve been very lucky overall. I think it’s very subjective, when one person think it’s amazing and someone else is gonna think it’s shit. No matter what anyone says, if it’s negative about you, it will always be that person’s opinion. But you can have thousand nice comments and just one bad and you go straight to the bad one. But there’s a thousand on one side so… You just have to pay no attention.
What music do you do you listen?
GW: I’m listening to the new Muse record a lot. They played in Paris and we missed them for one day. They’re amazing. I’m also listening to the last Gaslight Anthem album.
FT: I’m listening to the Mumford & Sons record and the Ellie Goulding one.
SM: I’m also listening to the new Muse record, and the latest from Kanye West
So basically there’s democracy when choosing the music on the tour bus.
SM: Yeah but we always end up playing the Xbox so… (laughs)
Do you like to get involve in extra musical facts like promotion, marketing or video making?
GW: Well we’re very actively involved with everything, from art work, or designs, to photo shoots ideas or videos… We’re always involved in every single thing. Obviously there are things we don’t have any idea about, like the business side of things.
What percentage of passion do you think there is in your work?
GW: I like to think that our music sounds real and honest. And that’s something the people has always said to us. You know, we are a rock band but there’s a little bit of heart and soul, it’s not like disposable rock club music. We really do care about what we do and we think a lot about every small thing, and I like to believe that that comes across.
SM: We hear a lot of comments of people saying that a lot of people connect with the lyrics of the songs, which is very cool, isn’t it?
FT: I think in a lot of rock music, things like the emotion behind is often not paid enough attention too. You know a lot of time is just about the feeling of rock music, the energy… and that’s cool. I like it, but I like that people connect to our music on a different way. People get really wrapped up and care about it, which is amazing.
Do you think it’s harder now that it was before to make yourself a name in the music industry?
FT: I think it’s easier to get started, you can have a Myspace account, a Facebook account, and get some recorded for cheaper, quicker, and better than it was before. But at the same time, there are much more bands than ever has been.
GW: It’s definitely harder. It’s really difficult and sad it’s not just about music. But you just kind of, have to keep working harder and do what you do no matter how difficult it is.
FT: I think that’s what separate bands nowadays, the desire and the drive to keep going no matter how. And there’s not as much money as it used to be in the music industry than it used to be. And the music industry it’s in the middle of a massive change, as people can get for free what you were selling before.
Do you think the importance of the internet media and the social networks are more relevant than the typical hard work of the bands?
GW: I think it definitely helps. But it has to be both, unless you’re a phenomenal that blows the internet. But in most cases you have to put the hard work, and then use the social networks to kind of facilitate what you’re doing.
FT: There’s nothing that can substitute a good live band. You could find something amazing online, then you go the show and if they’re crap, you’re not going to follow that band. I do think that with the internet everybody have access to anything, and that’s something there wasn’t before.
What would you do if you were not musicians?
GW: Absolutely nothing. I guess I’d be working on whatever job just to have enough money to pay rent and some stuff. I’m very glad to have the band as it gives me the opportunity of focus on it and not to give a shit about something else.
Any ideas for a new record?
GW: Well, we have some little ideas, some seeds, or little recordings on the phones. But I’m really really exciting about doing a new record, something just in my gut tells me it’s going to be the best thing that we’ve done, and I’m really excited about that. I feel like that 2nd record was a real transition or phase for us in terms of how to be a better band. I think now it’s becoming better, really quickly and with every show I feel we’re getting more confident and we’re going somewhere really great. But somehow we got to find the time to tour and to record the new album.
Last question: Are you happy?
All: Yeah! Yeah definitely we do!
Bones has been released by [PIAS] on 2012.